Following Town Meeting approval in May, the Billerica Board of Selectmen are reviewing a plan that would allow the town to shop for discounted electricity rates for residents.

At the Oct. 24 Board of Selectmen meeting, Bernard Lynch of Community Paradigm Associates presented the Community Choice Power Supply Program Aggregation plan on behalf of Colonial Power Group.

Before the selectmen vote on the plan, learn more about Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) and how it fits in Billerica.

What is CCA?

Community Choice Aggregation is a measure passed by towns to allow them to buy electricity for residents and businesses within their areas. Currently, most ratepayers pay the default electrical supply rate on their bill. With this municipal aggregation plan, homeowners could receive a discounted rate on electrical supply, unless they opt out of the program or are already under contract with a supplier.

Proposed benefits

Municipalities have the ability to seek long-term rates to avoid market volatility. By locking into a long-term rate, residents would save money when the market price rises above their fixed rate. According to Lynch, the lower rates provided by CCA make towns more attractive to businesses choosing locations. Local control also allows town officials to hold the utility provider accountable, while setting their own energy goals and fixed rates.

Past action

Town Meeting approved a measure in May to allow Town Manager John Curran to enter into negotiations with an independent contractor to offer electrical supply to the town’s residents and businesses at this discounted rate. The measure passed with a vote of 147 to 14. On Oct. 20, the town opened a public comment period for residents to review the town’s aggregation plan. The public comment period remains open until Nov. 9. Residents are encouraged to visit the Town Clerk’s office or submit comments via email or by posted mail.

Opt-out clause

This is a voluntary program, meaning that any resident unwilling to take part can opt-out of CCA. In order to do so, they would need to call or email the town to be removed from the list. Lynch said Colonial Power Group allows residents to opt in and opt out when they choose, to provide overall flexibility. Lynch said typically between 3 and 5 percent of people opt out.

Next steps

The selectmen did not take action on Oct. 24, as they wait for the public comment period to finish. They expect to pick up this topic at their next meeting on Nov. 9 or the subsequent meeting, if the public comment period has not officially been closed. At that point they will vote on adopting the aggregation plan set forward by Lynch and Colonial Power Group. If accepted, the deal will go to the state for review, before eventually coming back to the town to decide how to proceed.

“This takes a while, you will not see this happen quickly,” Lynch said. Despite these steps, Lynch said the town is not forced to proceed into the marketplace if an appealing deal isn’t available.

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